Heart of the beast

BESTIES: Tahi Paenga plays the Beast to Amelia Williams’ Belle, in Musical Theatre Gisborne’s lavish production of Beauty and the Beast. Picture by Stephen Jones

ROMANCE is at the heart of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast, and who doesn’t love a romance? asks Amelia Williams who plays Belle, the Beauty of the story in Musical Theatre Gisborne’s upcoming production.

The story is also about transformation and redemption. While Tahi Paenga is the Beast for most of the show, his character begins as a young prince and castle master. When he turns away an old beggar woman, she warns him not to be fooled by appearances. In another guise, she transforms the prince into a Beast. The only way he can break the spell is to love another and earn her love in return.

In her own way Belle is an outsider too. Her nose is always in a book, says Williams.

“She’s the odd one in the town. All the other women don’t read. Belle and the Beast are both outsiders.

“I like that she sees the Beast is different. She can see through his pain.”

“I see him as a man who is lost,” says Paenga.

“He needs to find his way back.”

In the villagers’ eyes, Belle’s inventor father is another oddity. Lost in the forest and seeking sanctuary, the castle master locks him up but Belle manages to talk the Beast into taking his place.

“The first scene where we meet the Beast is terrifying,” says Paenga.

Although Beauty and the Beast is Paenga’s acting debut, he has years of singing experience.

“The singing is where I made my start but I’m learning to emote a lot better because of my background in music.”

A highlight for him is the emotion in Evermore, the song at the end of act one that hits some big notes, he says.

He sings that heart-breaking song when he loses Belle, says Williams.

“He has the most fabulous emotional expression in his voice. We have been rehearsing the show for months and the cast still tear up when he sings Evermore.”

ROMANCE is at the heart of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast, and who doesn’t love a romance? asks Amelia Williams who plays Belle, the Beauty of the story in Musical Theatre Gisborne’s upcoming production.

The story is also about transformation and redemption. While Tahi Paenga is the Beast for most of the show, his character begins as a young prince and castle master. When he turns away an old beggar woman, she warns him not to be fooled by appearances. In another guise, she transforms the prince into a Beast. The only way he can break the spell is to love another and earn her love in return.

In her own way Belle is an outsider too. Her nose is always in a book, says Williams.

“She’s the odd one in the town. All the other women don’t read. Belle and the Beast are both outsiders.

“I like that she sees the Beast is different. She can see through his pain.”

“I see him as a man who is lost,” says Paenga.

“He needs to find his way back.”

In the villagers’ eyes, Belle’s inventor father is another oddity. Lost in the forest and seeking sanctuary, the castle master locks him up but Belle manages to talk the Beast into taking his place.

“The first scene where we meet the Beast is terrifying,” says Paenga.

Although Beauty and the Beast is Paenga’s acting debut, he has years of singing experience.

“The singing is where I made my start but I’m learning to emote a lot better because of my background in music.”

A highlight for him is the emotion in Evermore, the song at the end of act one that hits some big notes, he says.

He sings that heart-breaking song when he loses Belle, says Williams.

“He has the most fabulous emotional expression in his voice. We have been rehearsing the show for months and the cast still tear up when he sings Evermore.”

Musical Theatre Gisborne’s Beauty and the Beast opens at the War Memorial Theatre on Wednesday and runs until August 5. Start time is 7.30pm and 2.30pm for the August 5 matinee. Tickets available from Stephen Jones Photography or TicketDirect.

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